The NRA on Oct. 5 called for a federal regulation outlawing the sale and possession of “bump stocks,” the device Las Vegas mass murderer Steve Paddock used to retrofit his weapons with rapid-fire capabilities, leaving 58 victims dead and more than 500 injured in just nine minutes Oct. 1 in Las Vegas.
Gun control advocates immediately called the initiative a diversion designed to give legislators an easy, popular panacea bill to adopt while avoiding any attempt to approve substantive gun control measures. Politico, noting the NRA already bans bump stocks at its own firing range, were among the media outlets claiming the group’s motives were proactively self-serving.
Maybe so, but banning bump stock is the only actionable legislative response available on short-notice to Congress — if there is a legislative response at all. “Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks,” said NRA President Wayne LaPierre and NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox in a joint statement.
Longtime gun control zealot Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wasted little time ensuring such a measure would not pass in the Senate by adding it to her multi-failed assault weapon ban, which she dusted off and re-introduced on Oct. 5. This reiteration of the ban includes outlawing the import, sale, manufacturing, transfer or possession of “a trigger crank, a bump-fire” or similar devices that can retrofit semi-automatic weapons to fire at nearly the same rate as automatic ones, which are heavily regulated.
Of course, the Senate won’t pass Feinstein’s flawed and legally indefensible assault weapons ban and Feinstein knows that. She doesn’t want it to pass. She wants the optics and sound bites that will accompany Republicans rejecting her “common sense” gun control proposals, which will obscure the reality that it is a flawed and legally indefensible bill purposely submitted to create those very optics and soundbites and nothing else. It’s the same old dog-and-pony show.
If bump stocks are banned, it won’t be as part of Feinstein’s assault weapon ban but, most likely, as a bill that exclusively focuses on accessory. While President Donald Trump said it was “not the time” to discuss quick demands for tighter restrictions, House Speaker Paul Ryan said there was momentum for restricting bump stocks
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who has an “A” NRA rating, said he would have “no problem” banning the device. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), who has a NRA B-plus rating, said Congress should do so immediately. “Look at Las Vegas,” he told the Associated Press. “That’s how I account for it. Americans are horrified by it. They’re horrified. And they should be.”
Ryan did not respond to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s request that he create a select committee on gun violence to recommend legislation, but did announce that hearings on the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, HR 3688, the omnibus bill that includes the Hearing Protection Act, HR 367, have been removed from the House calendar.
Meanwhile, Cabela’s announced it has removed bump stocks from its online sales and Walmart booted third-party sellers from offering the product on its website.
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‘GHOST GUNS GO SMALL
Defense Distributed Releases Software For 3-D Handguns
On Oct. 1, Defense Distributed released new software for is computer-controlled milling machine, a 1-foot-cubed tabletop machine that uses a spinning bit to carve three-dimensional shapes with minute precision, that it claims can produce untraceable bodies of AR-15s and carve out the aluminum frame of an M1911 handgun.
This is the latest innovation designed to challenge regulatory capacity to keep pace with technology by Defense Distributed and CEO Cody Wilson, who five years ago created the world’s first 3-D printed plastic gun that anyone could print at home with a download and a few clicks, and has since created a computer-controlled milling machine that can produce an untraceable AR-15.
The new M1911 handgun software for Wilson’s ‘Ghost Gunner’ computer-controlled milling machine can produce semiautomatic pistols, such as the Colt 45. Wilson told Wired that he plans to follow up with software that will produce regulation-free Glocks and other handgun models to follow.
He told Wired that he hopes to do for small arms what he did for AR-15s when Defense Distributed released the $1,500 Ghost Gunner milling machine on Oct. 1, 2014: Give people the ability to make a lethal weapon at home with no regulation whatsoever.
According to Defense Distributed, the latest model of the milling machine can finish a handgun’s frame in about an hour. The frame is the only regulated part of the pistol: Under federal law, every other part of the gun, from its barrel to its slide to firing pin, can be ordered online. Making that one element at home means the entire process of assembling a weapon requires no identification, no background check, no waiting period, not even a serial number to track the gun’s existence.
Of course, Wilson’s machine will draw state and federal attention. The Ghost Gunner AR-15 certainly did. California has already outlawed “ghost guns”—homemade firearms without serial numbers—last year. Right now, there are no federal laws regulating them.
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Gun Control Advocates To ‘Exploit Fertile Ground’ In States
Even before Las Vegas mass murderer Steve Paddock used bump stocks to retrofit his weapons with rapid-fire capabilities, leaving 58 victims dead and more than 500 injured Oct. 1 in Las Vegas, state legislatures were increasingly wading into the thickets of gun regulation, ostensibly because Congressional Republicans won’t.
During the 2017 legislative sessions, 138 new gun laws tightening restrictions on possession or purchase of firearms have been enacted in 42 states, according to Congressional Quarterly State Track, even though Republicans’ control of a majority of legislatures and 35 governor’s offices.. Many were related to prohibiting domestic abusers from possessing weapons, requiring mental health records to be added to background check databases, or expanding background checks themselves to cover more gun purchases.
In addition, 19 states — including Nevada — have strengthened mandatory background checks for gun purchases since 2013. Nevada also recently enacted a law that prevents those convicted of domestic violence or who have a restraining order against them from being able to carry guns.
According to Thomas Beaumont and Bill Barrow of the Associated Press, Republican governors in Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and New Jersey all have signed bills in 2017 tightening access to guns.
“Hoping it’s at least a mini-trend, gun control advocates say they plan to exploit newly fertile ground in the wake of the Las Vegas shootings,” Beaumont and Barrow write.
They already had momentum. “Permit-less carry” was introduced in 22 states in 2017. It only passed in North Dakota and New Hampshire. It failed in Republican-heavy Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Utah, South Dakota and Texas.
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IN THE COURTS
Six UGA Professors File Suit Challenging Campus Carry
Six University of Georgia professors have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Nathan Deal, claiming the state’s newly adopted campus carry bill is unconstitutional.
Georgia became the 10th state in June to enact a “campus carry” law. The lawsuit claims colleges should be treated as sanctuaries of learning and says “for over two centuries, going as far back as 1810, the Board of Regents and university system institutions have exercised this constitutional authority to prohibit firearms on university system campuses.”
The six professors and their lawyers declined to comment, but Natalie Rubino of the Associated Press asked Simon Bloom, an Atlanta attorney, his thoughts on the suit.
“That law, I think and I’ve gone on record of saying, was more of a gratuitous political statement nodding in favor of gun rights advocates than it was real policy,” said Bloom. Gov. Deal’s office has not issued a statement on the lawsuit.
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